What kind of computer is your sci-fi franchise?

I’m headed to MARCON this weekend, and in preparation, I wanted to share this revelation with you. It came to me while I was watching a mashup video using video from Star Trek: The Next Generation.

They were using iPads.

Or at least, something a lot like it. And that got me to thinking. The iPad is primarily a content consumption device. By all accounts, it’s great for reading books, magazines, and comics on. It’s wonderful for video and generally watching media. But it’s not so big on the content creation side of things. Touch typists, for example, have griped about the onscreen keyboard. The lack of expandability can make it (more) difficult to use for creating artwork or video than a traditional computer.

But that’s just like Star Trek.

I mean, really, who besides Scotty (or the Chief Engineer of your choice) is anything besides an end user? Barring deus ex machina, nobody shows any desire (or competence) with being a hacker or maker. And that got me to thinking about other franchises…

  • Apple: Star Trek, specifically TNG and the reboot for reasons mentioned above. I can so see Data downloading implants from the iPersonality App Store. God help him with the DRM. So does this make Enterprise the original Mac OS? Or is it better to talk about the hardware here – with the reboot being the iPad and so on? Discuss.
  • Microsoft: The Empire (Star Wars). I mean, really. Look at the Death Star. One critical flaw and the whole thing crashes? In multiple versions? Which Windows version corresponds to which Death Star? Discuss.
  • Linux (pre-Ubuntu): The Rebel Alliance (Star Wars). Tinkerers who built efficient and useful ships that outperform the standard (see: Millenium Falcon, X-Wings), but are not quite as polished or require constant tweaking (see: Chewie repairing the Falcon on Hoth). Which distro corresponds to which craft? Is Puppy Linux the Millenium Falcon of distros? Discuss.
  • Ubuntu and derivatives: The Old Republic (Star Wars). This isn’t a slam on Ubuntu – the Old Republic ships are frequently much more advanced than the Rebel Alliance ones. They’re polished, often sleek and pretty. And often have somewhat unusual color schemes.

I’ve not touched on a lot of OS variants – and skipped a lot of franchises (Firefly, Stargate, Babylon 5, etc). I’ve probably gotten some details wrong. Completely wrong.

What do you think? Put your thoughts below, and have a great weekend.

2 thoughts on “What kind of computer is your sci-fi franchise?

  1. Interesting train of thought – and one that I'm sure many of us geeks have come across before. I know I've searched for (and found) metaphors for OS'es (and tech companies) in things such as movies. Your ideas are pretty good, though I'm not sure about the Ubuntu one. I like the 'Linux = Rebel Alliance' (especially since I'm writing this in Gentoo, which is as scruffy a distro as you can find :)), but I think of Ubuntu as a sort of hippie-MacOSX. Maybe it's a bit of Asimov's Foundation?

    Anyhow, if I had decide, I'd say my computer resembles a cheap Millenium Falcon. It's a heap of junk by most people's standards (Celeron 2,8 GHz, 1 GB of RAM, 80 GB HDD), but runs circles around newer hardware thanks to a hand-compiled and highly tweaked Gentoo Linux. That, and it often decides to not want to go into hyperdrive for a reason so esoteric I can't even begin to understand it 🙂

  2. Yeah, the Ubuntu one is a bit of a stretch. Foundation's okay – but it would have to be the Second Foundation, not the First. Maybe Clarke's 2001/2010/etc series?

    You definitely got a LOL from me on that hyperdrive bit!

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